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by his rifle-gun, may be made the means of keep- greater forethought, and more prudent care of a ing him and his companions alive. As miserable man's earnings. Undoubtedly it would, but so also is that of sone savage Islander, who, when the would it, and in a much greater degree, if the land has ceased to afford him sustenance, watches legislative provisions were retained, and parochial for food which the waves may cast up, or in vain relief administered under the care of the upper endeavours to extract it from the inexplorable classes, as it ought to be. For it has been invariadeep. But neither of these is in a state of wretch- bly found, that wherever the funds have been edness comparable to that, which is so often raised and applied under the superintendence of endured in civilised society: multitudes, in all gentlemen and substantial proprietors, acting in ages, have known it, of whom may be said :- vestries, and as overseers, pauperism has diminished
accordingly. Proper care in that quarter would * Homeless, near a thousand homes they stood,
effectually check what is felt in some districts to And near a thousand tables pined, and wanted food.'
be one of the worst evils in the poor law system, Justly might I be accused of wasting time viz. the readiness of small and needy proprietors in an uncalled-for attempt to excite the feel- to join in imposing rates that seemingly subject ings of the reader, if systems of political economy,
them to great hardships, while, in fact, this is done widely spread, did not impugn the principle, and with a mutual understanding, that the relief each if the safeguards against such extremities were is ready to bestow upon his still poorer neighbours left unimpaired. It is broadly asserted by many, will be granted to himself, or his relatives, should that every man who endeavours to find work, may
it hereafter be applied for. find it: were this assertion capable of being veri- But let us look to inner sentiments of a nobler fied, there still would remain a question, what quality, in order to know what we have to build kind of work, and how far may the labourer be upon. Affecting proofs occur in every one's fit for it? For if sedentary work is to be exchanged experience, who is acquainted with the unfortunate for standing; and some light and nice exercise of and the indigent, of their unwillingness to derive the fingers, to which an artisan has been accus- their subsistence from aught but their own funds tomed all his life, for severe labour of the arms; or labour, or to be indebted to parochial assistance the best efforts would turn to little account, and for the attainment of any object, however dear to occasion would be given for the unthinking and them. A case was reported, the other day, from a the unfeeling unwarrantably to reproach those coroner's inquest, of a pair who, through the space who are put upon such employment, as idle, of four years, had carried about their dead infant froward, and unworthy of relief, either by law from house to house, and from lodging to lodging, or in any other way! Were this statement as their necessities drove them, rather than ask correct, there would indeed be an end of the the parish to bear the expense of its interment : argument, the principle here maintained would the poor creatures lived in the hope of one day be superseded. But, alas! it is far otherwise. being able to bury their child at their own cost. That principle, applicable to the benefit of all It must have been heart-rending to see and hear countries, is indispensable for England, upon whose the mother, who had been called upon to account coast families are perpetually deprived of their for the state in which the body was found, make support by shipwreck, and where large masses this deposition. By some, judging coldly, if not of men are so liable to be thrown out of their harshly, this conduct might be imputed to an ordinary means of gaining bread, by changes in unwarrantable pride, as she and her husband had, commercial intercourse, subject mainly or solely it is true, been once in prosperity. But examples, to the will of foreign powers; by new discoveries where the spirit of independence works with equal in arts and manufactures; and by reckless laws, strength, though not with like miserable accomin conformity with theories of political economy, paniments, are frequently to be found even yet which, whether right or wrong in the abstract, among the humblest peasantry and mechanics. have proved a scourge to tens of thousands, by There is not, then, sufficient cause for doubting the abruptness with which they have been carried that a like sense of honour may be revived among into practice.
the people, and their ancient habits of independence But it is urged, -refuse altogether compulsory restored, without resorting to those severities which relief to the able-bodied, and the number of those the new Poor Law Act has introduced. who stand in need of relief will steadily diminish But even if the surfaces of things only are to be through a conviction of an absolute necessity for examined, we have a right to expect that lawgivers should take into account the various tempers and valuable, and has, it may be hoped, led to the condispositions of mankind: while some are led, by clusion that its legitimate operation is to make men the existence of a legislative provision, into idle- worthier of that gift : in other words, not to degrade ness and extravagance, the economical virtues but to exalt human nature. But the subject must might be cherished in others by the knowledge not be dismissed without adverting to the indirect that, if all their efforts fail, they have in the Poor influence of the same principle upon the moral Laws a 'refuge from the storm and a shadow from sentiments of a people among whom it is embodied the heat.' Despondency and distraction are no in law. In our criminal jurisprudence there is a friends to prudence: the springs of industry will maxim, deservedly eulogised, that it is better that relax, if cheerfulness be destroyed by anxiety; ten guilty persons should escape, than that one without hope men become reckless, and have a innocent man should suffer; so, also, might it be sullen pride in adding to the heap of their own maintained, with regard to the Poor Laws, that it wretchedness. He who feels that he is abandoned is better for the interests of humanity among the by his fellow-men will be almost irresistibly driven people at large, that ten undeserving should partake to care little for himself; will lose his self-respect of the funds provided, than that one morally good accordingly, and with that loss what remains to man, through want of relief, should either have his him of virtue?
principles corrupted, or his energies destroyed; With all due deference to the particular expe
than that such a one should either be driven to do rience, and general intelligence of the individuals wrong, or be cast to the earth in utter hopelessness. who framed the Act, and of those who in and out In France, the English maxim of criminal jurisof parliament have approved of and supported it; prudence is reversed; there, it is deemed better it may be said, that it proceeds too much upon the that ten innocent men should suffer, than one guilty presumption that it is a labouring man's own fault escape: in France, there is no universal provision if he be not, as the phrase is, beforehand with the for the poor; and we may judge of the small world. But the most prudent are liable to be value set upon human life in the metropolis of that thrown back by sickness, cutting them off from country, by merely noticing the disrespect with labour, and causing to them expense : and who which, after death, the body is treated, not by the but has observed how distress creeps upon multi- thoughtless vulgar, but in schools of anatomy, tudes without misconduct of their own; and merely presided over by men allowed to be, in their own from a gradual fall in the price of labour, without art and in physical science, among the most a correspondent one in the price of provisions; so enlightened in the world. In the East, where that men who may have ventured upon the marriage countries are overrun with population as with a state with a fair prospect of maintaining their weed, infinitely more respect is shown to the families in comfort and happiness, see them reduced remains of the deceased ; and what a bitter mockery to a pittance which no effort of theirs can increase? is it, that this insensibility should be found where Let it be remembered, also, that there are thousands civil polity is so busy in minor regulations, and with whom vicious habits of expense are not the ostentatiously careful to gratify the luxurious cause why they do not store up their gains ; but propensities, whether social or intellectual, of the they are generous and kind-hearted, and ready to multitude ! Irreligion is, no doubt, much concerned help their kindred and friends; moreover, they with this offensive disrespect, shown to the bodies of have a faith in Providence that those who have the dead in France; but it is mainly attributable to been prompt to assist others, will not be left
the state in which so many of the living are left by destitute, should they themselves come to need. the absence of compulsory provision for the indigent By acting from these blended feelings, numbers
so humanely established by the law of England. have rendered themselves incapable of standing Sights of abject misery, perpetually recurring, up against a sudden reverse. Nevertheless, these harden the heart of the community. In the perusal men, in common with all who have the misfortune of history, and of works of fiction, we are not, to be in want, if many theorists had their wish, indeed, unwilling to have our commiseration exwould be thrown upon one or other of those three cited by such objects of distress as they present to sharp points of condition before adverted to, from us; but, in the concerns of real life, men know which the intervention of law has hitherto saved that such emotions are not given to be indulged them.
for their own sakes : there, the conscience deAll that has been said tends to show how the clares to them that sympathy must be followed by principle contended for makes the gift of life more action ; and if there exist a previous conviction that the power to relieve is utterly inadequate to draw profit from his savings, by investing them in the demand, the eye shrinks from communication buildings or machinery for processes of manufacture with wretchedness, and pity and compassion with which he was habitually connected. His little languish, like any other qualities that are deprived capital would then be working for him while he was of their natural aliment. Let these considera- at rest or asleep; he would more clearly perceive tions be duly weighed by those who trust to the the necessity of capital for carrying on great hope that an increase of private charity, with all works ; he would better learn to respect the its advantages of superior discrimination, would larger portions of it in the hands of others ; he more than compensate for the abandonment of would be less tempted to join in unjust combinathose principles, the wisdom of which has been tions; and, for the sake of his own property, if here insisted upon. How discouraging, also, would not for higher reasons, he would be slow to probe the sense of injustice, which could not fail mote local disturbance, or endanger public tranto arise in the minds of the well-disposed, if the quillity; he would, at least, be loth to act in that burden of supporting the poor, a burden of which way knowingly: for it is not to be denied that the selfish have hitherto by compulsion borne a
such societies might be nurseries of opinions share, should now, or hereafter, be thrown exclu- unfavourable to a mixed constitution of governsively upon the benevolent.
ment, like that of Great Britain. The democratic By having put an end to the Slave Trade and and republican spirit which they might be apt to Slavery, the British people are exalted in the foster would not, however, be dangerous in itself, scale of humanity ; and they cannot but feel so, but only as it might act without being sufficiently if they look into themselves, and duly consider counterbalanced, either by landed proprietorship, their relation to God and their fellow-creatures. or by a Church extending itself so as to embrace That was a noble advance ; but a retrograde an ever-growing and ever-shifting population of movement will assuredly be made, if ever the mechanics and artisans. But if the tendencies of principle, which has been here defended, should
such societies would be to make the men prosper be either avowedly abandoned or but ostensibly who might belong to them, rulers and legislators retained.
should rejoice in the result, and do their duty to But after all, there may be a little reason to the state by upholding and extending the influence apprehend permanent injury from any experiment of that Church to which it owes, in so great a that may be tried. On the one side will be measure, its safety, its prosperity, and its glory. human nature rising up in her own defence, and
This, in the temper of the present times, may on the other prudential selfishness acting to the
be difficult, but it is become indispensable, since same purpose, from a conviction that, without a large towns in great numbers have sprung up, and compulsory provision for the exigencies of the
others have increased tenfold, with little or no labouring multitude, that degree of ability to re-dependence upon the gentry and the landed progulate the price of labour, which is indispensable prietors ; and apart from those mitigated feudal for the reasonable interest of arts and manufac- institutions, which, till of late, have acted so tures, cannot, in Great Britain, be upheld. powerfully upon the composition of the House of
Commons. Now it may be affirmed that, in quarII. In a poem of the foregoing collection, allusion ters where there is not an attachment to the is made to the state of the workmen congregated in Church, or the landed aristocracy, and a pride in manufactories. In order to relieve many of the supporting them, there the people will dislike evils to which that class of society are subject and both, and be ready, upon such incitements as are to establish a better harmony between them and perpetually recurring, to join in attempts to overtheir employers, it would be well to repeal such throw them. There is no neutral ground here : laws as prevent the formation of joint-stock com- from want of due attention to the state of society panies. There are, no doubt, many and great in large towns and manufacturing districts, and obstacles to the formation and salutary working of ignorance or disregard of these obvious truths, innuthese societies, inherent in the mind of those whom merable well-meaning persons became zealous supthey would obviously benefit. But the combina- porters of a Reform Bill, the qualities and powers tions of masters to keep down, unjustly, the price of which, whether destructive or constructive, of labour would be fairly checked by them, as they would otherwise have been afraid of; and even far as they were practicable ; they would encourage the framers of that bill, swayed as they might be economy, inasmuch as they would enable a man to by party resentments and personal ambition,
could not have gone so far, had not they too been meddle with public affairs, whether in church or lamentably ignorant or neglectful of the same state, fly to generalities, that they may be eased truths both of fact and philosophy.
from the trouble of thinking about particulars; and But let that pass; and let no opponent of the thus is deputed to mechanical instrumentality the bill be tempted to compliment his own foresight, work which vital knowledge only can do well. by exaggerating the mischiefs and dangers that “ Abolish pluralities, have a resident incumbent have sprung from it : let not time be wasted in
in every parish,” is a favourite cry; but, without profitless regrets ; and let those party distinctions adverting to other obstacles in the way of this vanish to their very names that have separated specious scheme, it may be asked what benefit men who, whatever course they may have pur- would accrue from its indiscriminate adoption to sued, have ever had a bond of union in the wish counterbalance the harm it would introduce, by to save the limited monarchy, and those other nearly extinguishing the order of curates, unless institutions that have, under Providence, ren- the revenues of the church should grow with the dered for so long a period of time this country the population, and be greatly increased in many happiest and worthiest of which there is any record thinly peopled districts, especially among the since the foundation of civil society.
parishes of the North.
The order of curates is so beneficial, that some III. A philosophic mind is best pleased when particular notice of it seems to be required in this looking at religion in its spiritual bearing; as a place. For a church poor as, relatively to the guide of conduct, a solace under affliction, and a numbers of people, that of England is, and prosupport amid the instabilities of mortal life: but bably will continue to be, it is no small advantage the Church having been forcibly brought by poli- to have youthful servants, who will work upon the tical considerations to my notice, while treat- wages of hope and expectation. Still more advaning of the labouring classes, I cannot forbear tageous is it to have, by means of this order, young saying a few words upon that momentous topic. men scattered over the country, who being more
There is a loud clamour for extensive change in detached from the temporal concerns of the benethat department. The clamour would be entitled fice, have more leisure for improvement and study, to more respect if they who are the most eager to and are less subject to be brought into secular swell it with their voices were not generally the collision with those who are under their spiritual most ignorant of the real state of the Church, and guardianship. The curate, if he reside at a distance the service it renders to the community. Reform from the incumbent, undertakes the requisite is the word employed. Let us pause and consider responsibilities of a temporal kind, in that modified what sense it is apt to carry, and how things are way which prevents him, as a new-comer, from confounded by a lax use of it. The great religious being charged with selfishness : while it prepares Reformation, in the sixteenth century, did not him for entering upon a benefice of his own, with profess to be a new construction, but a restoration something of a suitable experience. If he should of something fallen into decay, or put out of sight. act under and in co-operation with a resident That familiar and justifiable use of the word seems incumbent, the gain is mutual. His studies will to have paved the way for fallacies with respect to probably be assisted ; and his training, managed the term reform, which it is difficult to escape from. by a superior, will not be liable to relapse in matters Were we to speak of improvement, and the cor- of prudence, seemliness, or in any of the highest rection of abuses, we should run less risk of being cares of his functions; and by way of return for deceived ourselves, or of misleading others. We these benefits to the pupil, it will often happen should be less likely to fall blindly into the belief, that the zeal of a middle-aged or declining incumthat the change demanded is a renewal of some- bent will be revived, by being in near communion thing that has existed before, and that, therefore, with the ardour of youth, when his own efforts may we have experience on our side; nor should we have languished through a melancholy consciousbe equally tempted to beg the question, that the ness that they have not produced as much good change for which we are eager must be advan- among his flock as, when he first entered upon the tageous. From generation to generation, men are charge, he fondly hoped. the dupes of words; and it is painful to observe, Let one remark, and that not the least imthat so many of our species are most tenacious of portant, be added. A curate, entering for the those opinions which they have formed with the first time upon his office, comes from college after least consideration. They who are the readiest to a course of expense, and with such inexperience in
the use of money, that, in his new situation, he is support the truths of Christianity, and to diffuse
| events, can furnish infallible guidance through the It must be acknowledged that, among the regu.
delusions that surround them; and who, appealing lations of ecclesiastical polity, none at first view to the sanctions of Scripture, may place the grounds are more attractive than that which prescribes for of its injunctions in so clear a light, that disaffecevery parish a resident incumbent. How agreeable tion shall cease to be cultivated as a laudable to picture to one's self, as has been done by poets ' propensity, and loyalty cleansed from the dishonour and romance-writers, from Chaucer down to of a blind and prostrate obedience. Goldsmith, a man devoted to his ministerial office, It is not, however, in regard to civic duties with not a wish or a thought ranging beyond the alone, that this knowledge in a minister of the circuit of its cares! Nor is it in poetry and fiction Gospel is important; it is still more so for softening only that such characters are found ; they are and subduing private and personal discontents. scattered, it is hoped not sparingly, over real life, In all places, and at all times, men have graespecially in sequestered and rural districts, where ' tuitously troubled themselves, because their surthere is but small influx of new inhabitants, and vey of the dispensations of Providence has been little change of occupation. The spirit of the partial and narrow; but now that readers are so
1 Gospel, unaided by acquisitions of profane learning greatly multiplied, men judge as they are taught, and experience in the world,--that spirit, and the ' and repinings are engendered every where, by obligations of the sacred office may, in such situa- , imputations being cast upon the government; and tions, suffice to effect most of what is needful. I are prolonged or aggravated by being ascribed to But for the complex state of society that prevails, misconduct or injustice in rulers, when the indiin England, much more is required, both in large vidual himself only is in fault. If a Christian towns, and in many extensive districts of the pastor be competent to deal with these humours, country. A minister there should not only be as they may be dealt with, and by no members of irreproachable in manners and morals, but accom- society so successfully, both from more frequent plished in learning, as far as is possible without and more favourable opportunities of intercourse, sacrifice of the least of his pastoral duties. As and by aid of the authority with which he speaks ; necessary, perhaps more so, is it that he should be he will be a teacher of moderation, a dispenser of a citizen as well as a seholar; thoroughly acquainted the wisdom that blunts approaching distress by with the structure of society, and the constitution submission to God's will, and lightens, by patience, of civil government, and able to reason upon both grievances which cannot be removed. with the most expert ; all ultimately in order to
We live in times when nothing, of public good